‘We learned a lot from Yolanda, not just rebuilding lives but rebuilding them better. Yolanda provided a benchmark. It is the new normal,’ says Office of Civil Defense 8 Regional Director Edgar Posadas
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines (Nov. 7, 2016) — More than 400 responders from rescue teams, local government units, government agencies, civil society organizations, and volunteer groups participated in the first-ever rescue march in Eastern Visayas on Sunday, November 6, to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and to prepare for the next deadly typhoon.
Clad in their rescue gears carrying disaster response equipment, participants were divided into two groups – one group marched from Sta. Rita, Samar while the other started from San Joaquin, Palo at 2 AM. Both groups convened at the Balyuan Grounds in Tacloban City by 5:30 AM.
The rescue march was a simulation of an emergency response scenario following the Incident Command System (ICS), a national response mechanism promulgated by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Rescue March lead convenor Martin Aguda Jr said the event aims to promote unity and collaboration among rescuers.
“It strengthens public-private partnerships,” Aguda added.
The march was organized by Orange Helmets, Responder PH, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) – Region 8 and Tacloban City.
Yolanda ravaged the Visayas in November 2013, leaving more than 6,000 dead and billions worth of damage.
Various scenarios were given during the march to test responders’ endurance, ICS procedures, and emergency communications.
OCD-8 Regional Director Edgar Posadas said that the activity helps agencies identify the capabilities and skills of disaster response teams, and discover weaknesses and areas that need improvement.
“We must remember that sometimes the impact of a disaster is beyond the capacities and capabilities of one response team in an affected area. Thus, strengthening cooperation and coordination among various disaster response groups and volunteers are indeed important and necessary,” Posadas reminded the participants.
— Catherine Atienza (@scaredy_cath) November 5, 2016
Among the agencies and teams that participated in the event were the Department of Health (VIII), the Tacloban City Rescue Unit (TACRU), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), the Leyte chapter of Philippine Red Cross, Tacloban Chamber Volunteer Fire Brigade, Kabalikat Civicom, and rescue units from Alang-alang, Palo, Calbiga, Carigara, Dulag, Isabel, Barugo, Paranas, Tanauan, and Tolosa.
Remembering ‘fallen rescuers’
Participants paid tribute to fallen rescuers who died doing their duty during the super typhoon by giving certificates of recognition to their relatives. A wreath-laying ceremony was also held afterwards.
Mass graves and other Yolanda memorial sites were part of the march route.
Posadas said the event emphasizes the importance of responders during disasters.
“We learned a lot from Yolanda, not just rebuilding lives but rebuilding them better. Yolanda provided a benchmark. It is the new normal,” Posadas added.
Aguda, who is the founder of Orange Helmets, added that the super typhoon served as a reminder not to be complacent about any disasters. “Thus, there will also be a need to improve the system for disaster risk reduction and management in place,” he concluded.